An incredible 23 different colleges will be heading to Tyne and Wear to represent the North West in April, with no shortage of quality throughout the team.
The region finished fifth in Bath last year, but will be confident of improving on that finish this time around.
Here’s all you need to know about the 2016 North West team:
Last year’s result: 5th place
Colleges representing the region in 2016: Furness College, Lancaster and Morecambe College, Blackpool and The Fylde College, Preston’s College, Cardinal Newman Sixth Form College, King George V Sixth Form College, Runshaw College, Accrington and Rossendale College, Blackburn College, Burnley College, Nelson and Colne College, Winstanley Sixth Form College, Holy Cross Sixth Form College, Oldham Sixth Form College, Tameside College, Aquinas Sixth Form College, Xaverian College, Salford City College, Priestley College, West Cheshire College, Reaseheath College, St Mary’s College, Warrington Collegiate
Star athlete: Both the men’s and women’s golf competitions are looking incredibly tough this year, with several strong contenders for the title in each. But one golfer who will prove very difficult to beat is Holy Cross College’s Louisa Brunt. Currently playing off 0, the 17-year-old cruised to victory in the regional tournament and it’s of little surprise, considering Louisa’s already lengthy list of achievements.
Louisa, a member of Royal Birkdale Golf Club where she has the lowest handicap of all their female members, is County Junior Champion and has enjoyed success at the Northenden Junior Open, the Ringway Junior Open and the Lancashire Millennium Trophy.
On top of her growing collection of silverware, the Holy Cross student is a member of the Great Britain national squad, as well as the Lancashire ladies junior and senior squads. She was a finalist for Junior Telegraph – a competition held in Portugal for the top nine girls and 12 boys across Britain - and recorded the lowest round of the Royal Birkdale scratch ladies competition – no mean feat considering women from across England take part in the event.
One to watch: Callum Blinkhorn of Priestley College will be going for gold in Tyne and Wear, as he follows in his brother’s National Championships footsteps. The 17-year-old golfer qualified for the event with ease, as he shot a round of 70 at Reddish Vale Golf Club – seven ahead of his nearest rival. He knows exactly what awaits him when the Championships arrive, with older brother Sean also having represented the North West back in 2011.
“It can only help me as Sean can give me some insight into what to expect at the tournament,” he said, when asked if his brother’s involvement adds any pressure.
Callum, who is studying AS-Levels in geography, business, history and PE at Priestley, has been part of the England Golf boys’ regional coaching programme for the past three years, and has been successful in his application for the England Golf U18 AASE Regional Squad.
The teenager is a member of both Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club and Leigh Golf Club, the latter of which he helped to victory in the team event at the MDGA Dunham Forest Trophy in September. He also represents the Lancashire Union of Golf Clubs at both U18s and the men’s ‘B’ team.
National Championships veterans: Oldham Sixth Form College’s netball team will be heading to the National Championships for the third time in April and the squad will be among the favourites in what is set to be a high-level competition in Tyne and Wear.
What they say: “At Runshaw the motto for sport is: ‘Serious about sport and training? Have fun but don’t play at it.’
“Our academies work on trying to instil the message and all students on all courses have an equal opportunity to play sport in curriculum time. We even have a strength and conditioning academy for those sports that the college cannot support via a team e.g. athletics, swimming, cycling, golf etc.
“The AoC Sport National Championships are supported financially by the college and we have had a representative team or teams in the Championships every year since 1986.”
Roger Leigh – Runshaw College